THE ART OF CUPPING

 
 
 
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Have you ever heard of cupping? Do you understand what it is? Ever wondered what made Nick want to include it in his practice? It's quite easy!

It seems like such a simple idea, but the science behind it explains the benefits and lasting effects of cupping. Some of the benefits include: decreased swelling, pain relief, tension relief, increased blood flow, decreased muscle tension, and many more (1, 2, 3). One can achieve these benefits through a couple variations known as dry cupping and massage cupping.  
Dry and massage cupping originated in Asia and the Middle East, which uses glass, plastic, or silicone cups to suction the skin into the cup (1). Traditionally, cupping has been used for over centuries in Asia for blocks in Qi, ailments, and toxins in the blood (2). In modern medicine, the medical model is able to explain physiologically how cupping is beneficial on a muscular and vascular level. In the muscles, the distraction of superficial tissues and muscles inhibits the pain receptors to stop pain signals firing, while also providing a stretch to the superficial muscle layers. The vascular system is able to increase and move fluid out of the tissue layers. Dry vacuum cupping, which is pictured right, is where you leave the cups on the skin for up to 5 minutes to promote blood flow, relax muscle tissue, and increase skin elasticity (2). Have you seen people with circles on their skin? This is the technique that is used. Famous athletes and celebrities are benefiting from cupping, such as: Lebron James, Michael Phelps, Conor McGregor, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston, and Justin Bieber, just to name a few (4). 

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If the circles aren't intriguing to you, which is perfectly fine, the massage cupping is another great style that can accomplish similar goals. This technique involves putting lotion on the skin first. Next, the cup is added to the skin, and then therapist will drag it over the skin to another area and oscillate the motion (2). The benefits of this technique specifically are no or minimal bruising, decrease in muscle tension, and increase mobility. If you're curious about how this technique works, click this link to a very insightful video.
A review and meta-analysis was recently published about cupping benefits and proven techniques to produce some of the benefits listed above. Reviewing and comparing 26 studies, it has been concluded that cupping decreases pain, improved some disability from chronic pain, and increased pain threshold after treatment (3). Using cupping as part of therapy sessions will help improve your circulation, pain, muscle relaxation, and more. 

Written by: Kelsey Jones, SPTA

Want to give it a try? Email us at getphyt@phytforfunction.com or call/text 440-561-0820 to find out how to add cupping into your therapy sessions!

  1. Conrad, M. 2016. The Basics of Dry Cupping.

  2. Rushall, K. 2017. The Many Benefits of Chinese Cupping.

  3. de Castro Maura, C. et al. 2018. Cupping therapy and chronic back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

  4. Schultz, R. 2016. Cupping Therapy Isn't Just for Olympic Athletes.